Liffey Wanderers edge out Cobh as enthralling game ends in penalty drama
Liffey Wanderers 2-2 Cobh Wanderers (Liffey Wanderers win 5-4 on penalties)
Liffey Wanderers emerged victorious in the FAI Umbro Intermediate Cup Final after a hard-fought victory against Cobh Wanderers which was decided after a penalty shootout following a 2-2 draw.
Cobh started the better of the two sides, registering the first shot on target when danger man Ian Stapleton was played into the box before firing towards the near post only for his shot to be saved.
Stapleton thought he had scored the first goal of the game after 15 minutes. A 25-yard shot from Eoin Hastings produced a good save from Philip O’Connor and Stapleton was the quickest to react, firing in from close range only to be ruled offside.
Liffey managed their first effort on target with 33 minutes on the clock. Cobh cleared multiple crosses before one finally found its intended target. Lee Roche’s header proved to be a fairly routine save for Michael Devine.
In what was an even first 45 minutes, the sides went in level. Cobh had the better chances and seemed the more likely side to break the deadlock, but Liffey were holding up to their challenge well.
The second half kicked off in a lively fashion, with both sides eager to capitalise on their half-time break. Liffey striker Aidan Roche was troubling the Cobh defence with his pace and he looked a constant threat.
Liffey were having the better of the opening second-half exchanges but Cobh still looked dangerous going forward. They almost took the lead before the 60-minute mark when David Andrews went close with a header.
Aidan Roche was continuing to cause the Cobh defence problems, controlling excellently inside the box and forcing a good save from Devine. Minutes later he repeated the same feat, but once again he was denied by Devine.
Liffey opened the scoring after 71 minutes with a headed goal from 19-year-old Clayton Maher. The youngster first rattled the crossbar with a header, and he was first to react, capitalising on the rebound to head Liffey in front.
Liffey almost made it two shortly afterwards, this time Lee Roche failing to get the ball into the Cobh net after a threaded through ball.
Cobh pressed for an equaliser and they were rewarded with 85 minutes gone. A flicked effort by substitute Stephen Griffin was saved by O’Connor, but Conor Meade was on hand at the back post to level the game with five minutes to play.
The tie finished level and extra-time was required to separate the sides.
Liffey took the lead after just four minutes. Aidan Roche drove at the Cobh defence, turning two defenders before slotting passed the Cobh keeper to give Liffey a precious lead.
Cobh almost got an equaliser just before half-time. Substitute Alan O’Flynn half-volleyed from outside the crowded Liffey penalty area, but Liffey keeper O’Connor saved and then showed good reflexes and claimed the rebound.
Liffey almost ensured victory with a minute left to play. Cobh had committed bodies forward in search of an equaliser, and a counter attack saw Lee Roche’s through on goal but his curled effort was denied by Devine.
In the dying seconds of extra-time, Cobh found a precious equaliser. Committing large numbers in to the box proved fruitful, and Conor Meade finished in to the roof of the net with virtually the last kick of the game following a set-piece. The FAI Intermediate Cup final would be decided on penalties.
It was Liffey Wanderers who showed the most nerve in the deciding penalties, edging out their rivals 5-4 in what was a tense shootout to go on and lift the cup.
Liffey Wanderers: Philip O’Connor, Dean Young (D O’Connor 90+1), David Andrews, Dylan Roche, Carl O’ Brien, Clayton Maher (A O’Connor 77), Conor Riddick, Aidan Roche (G O’ Connor ET 21), Lee Roche, Kenneth Roche (Deegan ET 17), Anthony Gray
Cobh Wanderers: Michael Devine, Eoin Hastings, Kyle Downing (P Nolan 65), John Meade (Nolan 20), Brian Firtzgerald, David Curran (Geasley 82), Michael O’Shea, Ian Stapelton, Conor Meade, David Stack (O’ Flynn 73), Owen Kinsella (Griffin 62)
Referee: Eddie Reilly